The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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Forget China, the Internet police are already here in U.S.
In the Summer of 2007 I traveled to China to speak at a conference concerning security preparations for the Olympic Games, which were to be held in Beijing the following year. While transiting Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport I noticed something odd. The internet sites that I checked every day would not open, to include... Read More
Scott Horton's Afghanistan primer will impress both casual readers and experts
I was one of the first American officials to arrive in Kabul at the end of 2001. The war that seemed to be ending back then is currently in its 16th year with no end in sight, and for those of us who were there at the beginning it now sometimes seems like it was... Read More
Senate bill calls organization a 'hostile intelligence service' working with 'state actors.'
The United States, uniquely among nations, believes that its writ runs all over the world—and that it has a right to use its courts of law to seek retributive justice even in situations that did not involve American citizens and occurred in a foreign land. No other country sends its marshals overseas to forcibly detain... Read More
Hired psychologists devised "enhanced interrogation techniques” to break prisoners
Given the intense media coverage over Charlottesville, a recent small headlinelargely escaped notice, but it could have a major impact on how Americans come to terms with the excesses that developed from the “global war on terror.” For the first time, several individuals closely associated with the CIA torture program were about to become answerable... Read More
Lack of forensics leads to muddy waters indeed
Congress and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are looking into whether there was Donald Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government to “influence” the results of the 2016 presidential election. Stupidity and naivete will probably be revealed in abundance, but collusion to alter the outcome of an election—and thereby damage American democracy—is unlikely to be demonstrated.... Read More
Only fraud or something more?
On July 25, Pakistani-American IT specialist Imran Awan was arrested at Dulles Airport for bank fraud while he was allegedly fleeing to Pakistan. The reports predictably produced some press coverage before the story died. Yet the speed at which the news vanished has prompted some observers to suggest that there might actually be something more... Read More
Pro-Israel organization should not get a pass
Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed a meeting ostensibly convened to discuss the failure to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). Originally rescheduled for this week, the postponed meeting would have featured Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort testifying about their controversial Trump Tower meeting, but their... Read More
How not to prevent the next Reality Winner
Once upon a time one applied for a government position that required a clearance with the expectation that in three or four months the process would be completed and the authorization would or would not be issued. I experienced the drill on three occasions for top-secret clearances, once for the Department of Defense (DOD) and... Read More
Former intel officers-turned-Cassandras peddling crisis and self-promotion
Not so long ago my wife and I, in a heated moment, canceled our subscriptions to the Washington Post and the New York Times on the same day. We stopped short of burning recent copies of both publications on a bonfire in our front yard, but were elated at ending our connection to America’s leading... Read More
It's unclear whether she is speaking for herself or the White House
I went to a meeting the other night with some Donald Trump supporters who, like me, had voted for him based on expectations of a more rational foreign policy. They were suggesting that the president’s attempts to move in that direction had been sabotaged by officials inside the administration who want to maintain the current... Read More
Trump's anti-war promises were just glib campaign rhetoric
Something peculiar happens to American presidents after they take office on January 20. Campaign promises to right the easily perceived misdirections in foreign policy are abandoned, and the new program for dealing with the rest of the world winds up looking very much like the old one. Bill Clinton was an anti-Vietnam War draft dodger... Read More
Let’s not make the same mistake here
The recent series of terrorist incidents in Europe has produced the inevitable finger pointing regarding the ability of the security services to respond and has also reopened the debate over what might be done to prevent the attacks in the first place. Similar discussions have been going on in the United States for some time,... Read More
Maybe, but gathering intelligence is not the same as full interference
The most recent Russiagate expose comes from The Intercept, which was founded by Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill. The site has been the source of a number of stories that rely on stolen or leaked government documents, including material from Edward Snowden. It has also produced some exemplary investigative reporting on U.S. government high crimes... Read More
Washington might be sending too many spies, making them more vulnerable
The Central Intelligence Agency, established through the National Security Act of 1947, was primarily intended to be a centralized clearinghouse for information to prevent another Pearl Harbor-style attack on the United States. Be that as it may, the initiation of what would eventually be termed the Cold War soon after led to the rapid expansion... Read More
Russia now knows that its diplomatic communications are compromised
The media story about Jared Kushner’s approach to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak to create a back channel is breaking two ways and along predictable political lines. Kushner’s supporters in the administration are stating that Donald Trump’s son-in-law did nothing wrong, arguing that establishing an alternative channel to foreign governments and other interested... Read More
National-security officials may see themselves as patriots, but their methods set a dangerous precedent
Back in my time in the CIA, there were two places in the headquarters building one could go that were free speech zones—places where it was safe to vent about senior management without necessarily being admonished or even reported. They were the Historical Intelligence Collection room off the library, where no one ever went to... Read More
Why sources and methods matter more than the material itself
Intelligence agencies and senior government officials tend to use a lot of jargon. Laced with acronyms, this language sometimes does not translate very well into journalese when it hits the media. For example, I experienced a sense of disorientation two weeks ago over the word “sensitive” as used by several senators, Sally Yates, and James... Read More
Why whistleblowers are treated worse than traitors
President Barack Obama was a master at using the tools available through the Justice Department to silence whistleblowers and otherwise put a lid on developments that might embarrass his administration. He initiated numerous claims of the state-secrets privilege to stop lawsuits against the government, while also prosecuting leakers with a zeal previously unseen. So perhaps... Read More
The Arab Gulf States, Israel, and Turkey all prefer anarchy to Assad
The United Nations Charter, to which all member states are signatories and which prevails over all other treaties and agreements, states that the organization is obligated to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and to take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace... Read More
Once again, actual intelligence seems sparse
On the morning of April 4, a Syrian Air Force Russian-made Sukhoi-22 fighter bomber dropped or fired something at a target in rebel-held Idlib Governorate. A cloud of some chemical substance subsequently materialized and drifted to the adjacent inhabited village of Khan Shaykhun, where it killed between 50 and 100 people. We also know that... Read More
Intelligence community insiders are getting restless for a whistleblower to step forward
Wars and rumors of wars have been dominating news cycles of late. No one should be surprised that there is a “former intelligence officer” subculture that is particularly noticeable in the Washington, DC, area. We stay in touch, communicate regularly, have lunches to discuss the “old days,” and sometimes organize to raise objections to some... Read More
Obama appointees may have hoped Carter Page would be the smoking gun they needed to bring down Trump
Russiagate’s latest celebrity is a former Donald Trump associate named Carter Page. Page, who worked for Merrill Lynch in Moscow and speaks Russian, is a banker and investor who early in 2016 was a part of the amorphous group that was advising Trump on foreign policy. There is no evidence to suggest that he was... Read More
U.S. support goes far beyond the official numbers
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) concluded its annual conference late last month, triggering the usual debate in various alternative media outlets. Why does so much U.S. taxpayer money go to a small and not particularly useful client state that has a vibrant European-level economy and is already a regional military colossus? Those who... Read More
Comey’s testimony settles nothing
Call me confused. Last week’s House Intelligence Committee hearing on possible Trump associates’ collusion with the Russian government, which featured FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers, provided very little new information even as it confirmed troubling revelations that had already appeared in the media. If the FBI began its investigation of team... Read More
There’s a long history of skepticism among ex-spooks
There is a perception among some of the public and within the alternative media that America’s burgeoning national-security state is a monolith, a collective entity pursuing its own interests regardless of what is good for the country or its people. From both progressives and conservatives who mistrust the government, I often hear comments such as,... Read More
Something’s happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear
We Americans have long regarded coups as undesirable political turmoil afflicting nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America in which governments are changed by force rather than through the ballot box. During the past several weeks, political commentators are beginning to use the word when describing the series of events that began last summer with... Read More
A strange resignation in a UK intelligence service suggests U.S. partners may have been involved
The American media is ignoring a story from London about the abrupt resignationof Robert Hannigan, the head of Britain’s highly secretive Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which is the codebreaking equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Hannigan’s resignation on January 23 surprised everyone, with only a few hours’ notice provided to his staff. He... Read More
The leak has narrowed Trump's options for dealing with Putin
The story on the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is somewhat like peeling an onion, with each layer revealing something new. To be sure, I am delighted to see Flynn gone, both because of his clearly expressed desire to confront Iran and his inaccurate characterization of Islam. But Flynn’s departure will no doubt... Read More
Inspired by fringe theories about Islamic civilization, Michael Flynn is leading Trump down a dangerous path
The United States is adding new sanctions on Iran over that country’s alleged misdeeds, and nearly all of those allegations are either out-and-out lies or half-truths. It has a familiar ring to it, as demonizing Tehran has been rather more the norm than not since 1979, a phenomenon that has included fabricated claims that the... Read More
Trump’s order is a mess, but until a broken immigration system is fixed, he’s more right than wrong
How many Iranian terrorists have staged attacks in the United States? How many Sudanese? Or Iraqis or Syrians? Or Yemenis? Or Libyans? They are, of course, trick questions as the answer is none. Pakistanis, yes, central Asians, yes, a Somali, a couple of Egyptians and lots and lots of Saudi Arabians. Somalia is on the... Read More
CIA employees are not staging a coup against Donald Trump
It would never occur to ordinary CIA officers that derailing a presidency might be a desirable thing to do. The rumor of some kind of coup in the making is the creation of a media that is looking for a story and trying to bash Donald Trump at the same time. To be sure, there... Read More
Fact, fiction, or speculation?
Yesterday, BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier containing allegations that Russian operatives worked to identify and develop compromising personal and financial information about Donald Trump. Allegedly, this is the full document from which a two-page synopsis was drawn and provided to Trump and President Obama as an appendix to a report about Russian interference in the... Read More
Language used in the intelligence community's latest report suggests that they may not possess indisputable evidence
The eagerly awaited report on the alleged Russian influence operation and hack linked to the recent American presidential election finally appeared on Friday. It is quite possible that President Obama, the intelligence community, and Congress now hope that the case has been definitively made to tighten the screws on Russia. If that is so, they... Read More
What to expect from his new director
The midnight oil is burning over at the Central Intelligence Agency as senior managers consider options relating to how to play new president Donald Trump and new director Mike Pompeo, neither of whom possesses any serious understanding either of intelligence operations or of how to lead 20,000 often difficult-to-manage employees. With the exception of the... Read More
If something went wrong, Putin must have done it
My wife is English, so every Christmas we include in our celebration holiday crackers. For those unfamiliar with British traditions, the crackers are cardboard tubes wrapped in decorated paper. When you pull on the ends they pop open with a bang, and inside there is a paper crown to commemorate the visit by the three... Read More
Relations between Ankara and Moscow will likely continue to improve, despite the assassination of a Russian diplomat
Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov has been shot dead in Ankara by an assailant who was subsequently killed by police. Sources who were present at the scene report that the attacker, dressed in a suit and brandishing a handgun, shouted in Arabic “Allahu Akhbar” followed by screams in Turkish, “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget... Read More
It’s time for new voices to have their say in the White House
I would very much like to see the White House revert to a George Marshall type of foreign policy, in which the United States would use its vast power wisely rather than punitively. As Donald Trump knows little of what makes the world go round, senior officials and cabinet secretaries will play a key role... Read More
It has become a destabilizing force in the Near East
The Republic of Turkey has become a loose cannon on deck, a short-term asset in enabling the U.S.’s bombing of northern Syria but a major liability when it comes to any eventual settlement intended to quell the fighting in the region. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to destroy both genuine enemies and far less... Read More
Voters should wake up to the issue of war versus peace
The relentless drumbeat against Donald Trump continues. The Washington Post on October 14 endorsed Hillary Clinton for president while also including in the print edition nine articles, three op-eds, and three letters blasting the GOP candidate, including pieces in the Style and Metro sections of the paper. On the following day there were five articles,... Read More
Both the U.S. and Russia are prepared to go there under certain circumstances
People who make their living thinking about defense policy and national security like everything to fit into a nice framework, preferably one that can be visualized on a PowerPoint slide. If you are unfortunate enough to be standing next to two officials speaking Pentagonese during a reception, you will note that their language is full... Read More
It doesn't usually achieve its objectives—and the perpetrators know it
There might well be thousands of books on terrorism, which means that it is extremely difficult to imagine something new. But Richard English’s Does Terrorism Work? A History, due to be released next month, differs from most discussions of the terror phenomenon. English is not a former intelligence officer or national-security official, nor a self-styled... Read More
Washington must accept that the Turkish leader is loyal only to his domestic supporters
What is going on in Turkey right now reminds me very much of the last few scenes in the first Godfather movie, where Michael Corleone is settling all of the Family’s outstanding business. Corleone is seen in church renouncing “Satan and all his works” while he participates in the baptism of his nephew—shortly before garroting... Read More
There's more hype than evidence in the paper's claims that Moscow orchestrates politics in Europe and America
August 14’s Washington Post print edition featured news articles, op-eds, an editorial, and three letters to the editor all attacking Donald Trump. And the paper’s other bête noire, Vladimir Putin, was featured in the front-page lead story as well as in an op-ed. On the preceding Friday, Putin had been attacked in an editorial for... Read More
Months of pressure on the Obama administration demanding the release of the redacted “28 pages” of the 9/11 report, regarding possible Saudi Arabian involvement, finally bore fruit on July 15. To be sure, there were deletions from the text to protect names and sources, but the document produced by the White House was largely complete.... Read More
There is a long tradition of trusting candidates with classified information
Providing intelligence briefings to presidential candidates is a practice that goes back more than sixty years to the administration of Harry Truman. The briefings are a courtesy and have no basis in law but they are intended to level the playing field somewhat so that an incumbent would not necessarily have an advantage over an... Read More
Trump and Clinton promise to defeat terrorism. But it's very difficult to stop a motivated mass murderer
Once upon a time the big threat to civilization was al-Qaeda. But today it is ISIS, alternatively known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh. Transcending their existence as actual physical entities, the names or acronyms have become metaphors for terrorist attacks, striking fear in the hearts of the people and enabling the political class... Read More
Opponents of Turkey's strongman have only solidified his position
The military coup in Turkey last weekend started on Friday and consisted of attempts to take over government buildings and key infrastructure. The coup drew mostly on troops from the gendarmerie and the air force and was led by mid-level generals and colonels. There were some initial successes but by early Saturday morning it was... Read More
Moscow is no longer the capital of an evil empire. Why is Washington stuck in a Cold War mindset?
Whenever the subject of American foreign-policy catastrophes comes up, the word “Iraq” immediately comes to mind. But George W. Bush’s ill-fated invasion of that hapless land in reality did not do irreparable damage to the United States. That is not to trivialize the costs, including trillions of dollars and the deaths of thousands of Americans... Read More
She showed little respect for the law—and probably compromised classified information
The FBI has decided not to recommend criminal charges for Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server, but Director James Comey’s explanation of the decision provides some additional information on what occurred and how. Among the 30,000 emails turned over by Hillary’s lawyers were eight chains classified at the highest level—“Top Secret”—plus... Read More
The Orlando shooting was a horrific crime. But larger trends suggest that the threat of mass attacks is receding
The State Department’s 2015 Country Reports on Terrorism came out earlier this month. It will no doubt be overshadowed by events, as it deals with overseas rather than domestic terror and appeared ten days before the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. But it helps to explain the roots of America’s terrorism problem. The document... Read More
Category Classics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
While other top brass played press agents for the administration’s war, William Odom told the truth about...
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?